In this final article into the early punting career of legendary US punter Andrew Beyer we find him, prior to the 1977 Gulfstream Park season, buried in stacks of old, yellowing copies of the Daily Racing Form preparing for one of the definitive times of his life.

Alongside him was The Kid who, just like Andrew, had discovered the intellectual stimulation of handicapping while he was an undergraduate. The Kid was so enamoured by horse racing that at one stage of his life he told his naïve parents each day he was heading to the Library Of Congress when he was actually going to Bowie Racecourse instead!

The Kid’s speciality was trainers and he kept an index card on every trainer, writing down the characteristics of their winners. In preparation for the Gulfstream Park punting assault he discovered two patterns which promised to make all his work worthwhile. One dealt with one trainer’s ability with first time starters and another trainer’s ability with first uppers over longer distances than the traditional pipe opener sprints.

Their assault was going along beautifully until Andrew backed a winner called What A Lucky Star. Just as his winner hit the line he thought he detected the runner-up jockey stand up in the irons. A viewing of the replay convinced him that “I hadn’t seen such blatant over-acting since my high school’s senior class play. When the jockey filed his protest I calmly sipped my Coke and pondered whether I should fly to Nassau for my celebration that evening.”

Sadly, the protest was upheld and it was later discovered the trainer and the stewards had been in a legal dispute and some sort of vendetta had been avenged. Andrew was “overwhelmed by the injustice of it all. Fortunately I remembered the advice of a friend who almost set his house on fire by smashing his television set after losing a football bet. So I vented my rage by driving my fist through the plasterboard wall of the pressbox.”

The Kid, in the meantime, day after day, week after week, was painfully learning the difficulty of being a professional gambler as he waited ?for the optimal Charlie type bet that would set him up. The pressure of waiting forced him to have smaller bets but finally he had found his horse.

Both watched in a mixture of pain and bewilderment as the 7/2 good thing struggled into fourth. The Kid was finished as he could not bear more weeks of waiting for a Charlie type of opportunity. As Andrew surmised, “I hoped that he had learned – as I had been reminded – about the tremendous importance of the psychological side of betting. He had let the pressure wreck his spirits.”

Long time readers of PPM will have read many articles on the importance of the mental state of the punter. It is an area of extreme importance for ?serious punters and unfortunately The Kid had been beaten by psychology more than an inability to pick winners. He had tried to be Charlie but he was not Charlie.

Andrew recovered shortly after the disastrous What A Lucky Star incident and at one stage during the Pimlico season had won on 13 out of 16 trips to the track and he was $34,073 in front. There were setbacks, particularly at Saratoga ?and more triumphs after that but in late December 1977 the calculations showed Andrew had won $50,664.

As he put it, “I had achieved my first great year as a horseplayer by following the advice Charlie had given me 12 months earlier. I had become a specialist. From the hundreds of factors which influence the outcome of horse races I had identified two or three which could make me a winner.”

His summary showed speed figures were most profitable for him when a horse was shipped from one track to another, the track bias at Pimlico accounted for almost half of his winning year while in varying manners trainers’ methods made up the rest.

When Andrew is asked by a budding young horseplayer how to win money at the track he suggests “take an inventory of your own skills, identify your successful methods and concentrate on refining them . . . a horseplayer’s choice of methods is LESS (my emphasis) important than the discipline with which he employs them. ?I won in 1977 because I matured as a gambler . . . I was able to sidestep most of the psychological pitfalls which had regularly tripped me up in the past. When I was winning I resisted over-confidence and megalomania . . . Saratoga (a disastrous carnival) reminded me of the impermanence and fragility of racetrack success . . . past triumphs are no guarantee of future successes.”

So, there it is. What a fascinating fellow and what a journey he undertook and what about the passion? You would have to read the books to fully understand just how much he loves the punt. I hope the quotes I have injected did him justice.

From your point of view what can be learned from this series? If you have not woken up to the fact that Australian horse racing is undergoing massive changes with the preponderance for speed and the introduction of new class levels at metropolitan venues, not to mention the betting side where you can ring a bookmaker and request certain price limits (i.e. no less than 2/1) or the advent of betting exchanges, then you must have just arrived from the planet Mars. How, then, should Australian punters react?

The key word is “specialisation”. These days, with family and work pressures, time has become an expensive commodity and the use of it is an art form as we try and fit 26 hours of activity into 24 hours on the clock. The only punters who can keep up with all the changes are those that have the computer skills and money to tap into one of the many horse racing database companies which download the formlines from the “powers” running racing and pass the information onto clients.

It then becomes obvious for those without the computer ability or finances that ?“specialisation” is their best and cheapest option.

For those of you keen enough, can I suggest you and a few of your punting comrades sit down one Saturday afternoon and have a discussion on what areas of the punt you find add to your wallet and which areas cause damage. I would then form a punters’ club with each member nominating one or two specialist areas and each week a nominated amount from each is bet and records kept for the year.

I suspect many of you, when forced to specialise, might surprise yourselves at the end of the year and as a bonus some extra few sheets of the folding stuff will enter your wallet for the Christmas goodies.

In finalising this article may I be so presumptuous as to list a few areas for your consideration at your punters’ club meeting. Firstly, divide Australia into the respective states. Which of your group loves a particular state outside of your home state? If I were in your group I would list Western Australia as my specialist state.

What about the carnivals in each state? Although members may not be interested in all states all year long there is no doubt they know many of the horses racing at the carnivals around the country. I would compile a list of key races such as all Open Group 1, 2 and 3 WFA races (the best horses always race at this level) and Group 1 and 2 handicaps.

This ensures you are betting in the best races with best horses and jockeys involved, which surely has to be better than struggling through Class 3 races where too many unknown factors abound. This alone could be your specialist area where ALL members of your syndicate could bet and you could call it The Group Racing Punters Club.

Andrew Beyer amassed money by following trainer patterns. Your group could list X number of trainers who members feel have been good to them and the list does not need to include the top tier trainers, either.

There are many trainers during the course of the year who travel long distances to the metropolitan area and when they win the odds are often most lucrative. For instance, following any Tasmanian visitors to the mainland has always been an excellent area over the years. Some trainers do exceptionally well when they travel interstate.

It makes sense to keep figures, as The Kid and Andrew Beyer did, on what characteristics certain trainers’ horses had which may have assisted their wins.

Some trainers can do magical things with first uppers, others cannot, whilst some can back them up quickly while others seemingly fail regularly.

What about distances? With the massive amount of information around these days based on sectionals is it an idea to just concentrate on sprint races? The sectionals will clearly indicate which horses have the best 200m, 400m, 600m and 800m splits and specialising on the horses with the better sectionals initially has you dealing with the fastest horses.

What about jockeys? The sensational ability of Darren Beadman in NSW and Paul Harvey in Western Australia is clearly evident in the available jockey statistics but with that well known knowledge there comes the barb of receiving lesser odds.

A specialist on the rides of Darren Beadman may have noticed a pattern: perhaps he rides better on front runners or on-pacers or his figures for John Hawkes’ first starters are below par or is he better at certain tracks or what about when he goes interstate?

What about tipsters? There are clearly some absolute shockers in this area who should be sacked for their continual poor performances. It is a disgrace some are still in a job and in the future I intend to research this area and will pass on the results to PPM readers but I am getting ahead of myself. ?

A few years ago I calculated the records of one particular well-known racing tipster and although he did tip some nice priced winners he still lost 25 per cent on turnover, which is impossible to overcome unless, again, you specialised and broke down his selections via a myriad of rules.

I hope you get the picture I am trying to metaphorically paint. The attention to specialist areas of the punt WILL increase your collects: it is as simple as that. It is a rare person that knows it all and that applies with a magnitude beyond description on the punt.

By specialising, as Andrew Beyer calls it, ?you will be able to eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive: the bottom line has to be improved returns.

I hope you all have enjoyed the Andrew Beyer trilogy of articles and if they have had you thinking about your own punting then my efforts in writing them will have been worthwhile.

Good luck to you all.

Click here to read Part 1.

By Roman Kozlovski